Sunday, May 23, 2010

May's Cookie of the Month: Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was hoping to try something a little more off the beaten path this month, but my aforementioned monkey demanded something "normal" with chocolate chips.

The Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies are very, very normal. In fact, I could barely taste the butterscotch in them at all. My independent taste tester said the dough reminded him of the NYTCCCs' caramel flavor dough, which results from the long resting period. Another factor in the subtlety of the butterscotch flavor might have been that I used Ghiradelli 60% Cacao chips. Had I used a basic Nestle Tollhouse chip or even a milk chocolate chip, I might be able to taste more of the butterscotch. Me, I prefer to be bowled over by my butterscotch, the way straight butterscotch chips taste. For what it's worth, the butterscotch flavor of the dough was more evident the next day.

According to the previously lauded handy little icon in the top corner of the recipe, the Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies are intended to be crunchy to hard. My independent taste tester said these cookies are his ideal texture - crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. So nowhere near hard. Which is cool with me, because I'm not a fan of hard cookies. The handy little icon also gives cakey as an option and I think I'd almost use that to describe my results here. But I'm wondering whether I did something wrong. Other indicia of wrongness include the following. The recipe says,

Flatten each ball slightly with your fingers just until the sides begin to crack.
I got no cracking. Just mushing. It goes on to say,
Use an oven mitt or a hot pad to hold on to the baking sheet, then give it two or three hard raps against the oven rack to make the cookies fall. Bake for about 1 more minute, or until the cookies are flat and crackly, but somewhat soft to the touch.
I did not notice any falling when I rapped my cookies and I would not describe my cookies as "flat and crackly." Undercooked? My oven thermometer always seems to register on the cool side of 350 - like closer to 300. Low humidity? I do live in the chaparral of Orange County. Oven and environment aside, could not allowing the butterscotch/butter mixture cool for 5 whole minutes cause softness?

There's a helpful note at the end of the recipe in the book that says something about not freaking out if your butterscotch/butter mixture turns to a big oily mess prior to the addition of the eggs as the eggs will help it all emulsify back together. This TOTALLY happened to me. It kinda gave me flashbacks to my Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream nightmare. But the eggs and continued beating on medium resolved the problem nicely.

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book: From Chocolate Melties to Whoopie Pies, Chocolate Biscotti to Black and Whites, with Dozens of Chocolate Chip Cookies and Hundreds More by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough


  • 2 1/4 C plus 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 8 T (1 stick) cool, unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 11 oz. butterscotch chips
  • 3/4 C packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 3 C semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together, set aside.

2. Place the butter pieces with the butterscotch chips in a large bowl; microwave on high for 20 seconds, stir well, then continue heating on high in 15 second increments until about three-quarters melted. Remove the bowl from the microwave and continue stirring until completely melted. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. If the oil separates out of the melted butterscotch chips, all is not lost. The eggs added later will re-emulsify it as they're beaten in.

3. Beat the brown sugar into the melted butterscotch mixture, using and electric mixer at medium speed for about 1 minute. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure the first is fully incorporated before adding the second. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla until smooth. Turn off the mixer, add the flour mixture, then beat at low speed until just soft, crumbly pieces of dough form, not until the mixture gathers into a ball. The dough will be quite thick and oily. Finally beat in the chocolate chips at low speed, just until incorporated.

4. Roll by tablespoonfuls into 1 inch balls; place them on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly with your fingers just until the sides begin to crack.

5. Bake for 12 minutes. Use an oven mitt or a hot pad to hold on to the baking sheet, then give it two or three hard raps against the oven rack to make the cookies fall. Bake for about 1 more minute, or until the cookies are flat and crackly, but somewhat soft to the touch. Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Cool the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking further batches.

Previous Cookies of the Month:
January's Cookie of the Month: Soft Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
February's Cookie of the Month: Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies
March's Cookie of the Month: Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
April's Cookie of the Month: Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Click here to see the rest of this post...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

CSA Pick-up


I chose curly kale, collard greens, carrots, breakfast radishes, one purple and one green kohlrabi and a handful of baby squash. I was jealous of Sarah's flowers, so I picked up some sweet pea flowers for myself. I meant to get lettuce, but I was rushing to get back home before Dexter woke up and was distracted by the different varieties of kale, that I forgot. Hopefully they'll have some next week. Now that my CSA has a pick-up location closer to me, if I drive, I can be back home within 15 minutes. It's also a nice walk if Dexter insists on coming along.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

CSA Basket 4

This week we received Cabbage, Apples, Lemon, Lettuce, Beets, Chard, Kale, Radishes, Strawberries, Sweet Pea Flowers, Avocado, Blood Oranges, Grapefruit, Green Onion, Valencia Oranges, Carrots, and Mineola Oranges.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Berry Season

My berry CSA started the year with strawberries and asparagus. I split my share with a friend because this CSA is expensive because we get a lot of organic berries. This last week the share was 6 quarts of strawberries (so I ended up with 3 quarts.) We ate most of them, but I cooked one quart with a little sugar made strawberry yogurt.

From berries

From berries

This was my second attempt at yogurt. The first time I made it, I made plain and it was pretty tart. This time, the strawberry goo balanced the tartness, but it made the yogurt a little thin. I didn't follow the directs for fruit yogurt because I wanted to make 'fruit on the bottom' but next time I'll try mixing the fruit in the yogurt base.

From berries

Click here to see the rest of this post...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

May's Cupcake of the Month: Strawberry Cupcakes

I selected this month's cupcake from the last non-decorating centric section of Martha Stewart's Cupcakes I had yet to try: Piped and Topped. The decision was seconded by the lovely local organic strawberries in my CSA basket.

I was a little intimidated by the challenge the frosting seemed to pose for Jenny and Tina over at Friends Who Bake. They have tackled some way more intense recipes from this book than I could muster, so their tales of frosting woe sent up warning flags. While I believe they followed the recipe from the book, they link to the cupcake recipe on Martha Stewart's website which references a slightly different frosting recipe. So I did a little research into this whole Swiss Meringue Buttercream thing to see if I could troubleshoot the recipe.

Meanwhile, the book recommends using an open-star tip size Wilton 8B or Ateco 826. I didn't happen to have either of these on hand, so I went to my handy neighborhood cake baking supply house the Calico Cake Shop. They didn't have an 8B or an 826, so I got a Magic Tip 8FT, which is an open-star tip with more sharp points than the 8B/826. The very helpful woman who worked there also showed me the tip they use to frost their cupcakes, the Magic Tip 1F, the opening of which looks sort of a like an anorexic shamrock. In the picture above, the cupcake on the left was frosted with the 8FT and the cupcake on the right was frosted with the 1F. I think I prefer the look of the 1F. It's a bit closer to the picture in the book, too, if accuracy is all the rage. And after much swearing at my inability to neatly end the swirl of frosting, I figured out why the recipe suggests putting a couple of slices of strawberry on top: to hide the fact you can't neatly end the swirl of frosting. I didn't like the bunny ear look two slices of strawberry produced, so I tried to go with three or four slices.

I was hoping the Calico Cake Shop would have some sort of reusable cupcake transportation device, but all I could find (and easily pick up with a baby on my hip) were boxes with inserts to carry six cupcakes. They worked wonderfully, but I'm still going to look for a reusable solution. Also, they made people think the cupcakes were store bought . . . which is kinda annoying when you've slaved away for two days . . . but also kinda cool if they thought they were nice enough to be fancy store bought.

I made two dozen cupcakes, though the recipe yields 30. The frosting was barely sufficient to cover the two dozen I made and I didn't actually pile the frosting two inches high as shown in the book. So if you're really going for an accurate two inch high frosting for 30 cupcakes, you might want to double the frosting recipe, just to be safe.

Most of the independent taste testers at the faculty party gave the cupcakes rave reviews, but two very important taste testers in the under six years old category were NOT fond of this frosting one bit. I can completely understand their opinions as this is not the sugary sweet frosting you might expect from its color. It's kinda like how the filling for the New York Times Whoopie Pies was sorta "grown up" compared to the filling of the The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book's Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies. After various adults gratefully scraped the rejected frosting onto their own cupcakes, the cake portions of said cupcakes met with the under-six-years-old set's approval.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Resources:
Smitten Kitchen's project wedding cake: swiss buttercream
Epicurious August 2004 Toba Garrett The Well-Decorated Cake Swiss Meringue Buttercream
New York Times March 17, 2009 Whoopie Pies Adapted from Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Strawberry Meringue Buttercream very loosely adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite Treat


  • 1 1/2 C (8 oz.) fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 C (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 tablespoons, just barely room temperature

1. Puree strawberries in a food processor. Combine egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the bowl. Cook, whisking constantly by hand, until the mixture reaches 180 degrees and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).

2. Transfer the sugar/egg white mixture to the room-temperature bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl). The mixture should have doubled in volume and become thick and shiny. This might take about 10 minutes.

3. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter 1/2 tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all of the butter has been added, slowly increase the mixer's speed every 10 seconds until you reach a medium-high speed. At this point, your frosting may appear to be a curdly soup (mine didn't, but I think that's due to waiting until the bowl was cool to the touch AND not taking my chopped up butter out of the fridge until sometime during step 2). Do not abandon hope. Continue whipping on medium-high speed. It should return to a lovely mayonnaise-like consistency.

4. Once all butter has been thoroughly incorporated, scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula and switch to the paddle attachment. Continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Add strawberries and beat on low until combined (Now this is where my frosting lost its luxurious consistency for a terrifying minute or so. I kept calm and mixed on and all was well . . . or so I thought). Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes (And this is where I nearly completely lost my junk. As soon as the paddle started rotating the frosting turned into a curdled mass of gross. I switched to the whisk attachment and slowly increased the mixer's speed every 10 seconds until I reached a medium-high speed. Then I walked away and had some quality rage followed by some deep breaths and brain storming what I could use instead to top these bad boys for the faculty party I was already late for. After about five minutes experiencing the five stages of grief, I went back to my mixer to find that it looked just fine.)

Strawberry Cupcakes adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite Treat

  • 2 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C cake flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 C milk
  • 2 C finely chopped fresh strawberries, plus about 10 more for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, and salt.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Add whole eggs and egg white one at a time beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk, and beating until well combined. Fold in chopped strawberries by hand.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes. Turn out cupcakes onto rack and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored up to 1 day at room temperature in airtight containers.

4. To finish, fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip with buttercream. Pipe buttercream onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Just before serving, thinly slice remaining strawberries, and tuck a few pieces into the buttercream.

Previous Cupcakes of the Month:
January's Cupcake of the Month: Streusel Cupcakes
February's Cupcake of the Month: Martha's Meyer Lemon Cupcakes
March's Cupcake of the Month: Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes
April's Cupcake of the Month: Tres Leches Cupcakes

Click here to see the rest of this post...

Thursday, May 06, 2010

CSA Basket 3

This week we received Strawberries, Beets, Chard, Kale, Green Panther Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Broccoli, Sweet Peas, Avocado, Apples, Valencia Oranges, Spring Onion, Turnips, Parsley, Navel Oranges, and Snap Peas.

I did finally have the Iceberg Lettuce With Blue Cheese Dressing from the first basket. The dressing turned out to be more of a dip, which was cool. It would be awesome with buffalo wings, if you're into that sort of thing. It would be way too heavy for any lettuce less sturdy than iceberg. Continue reading to learn the fates of the apples and Meyer lemon that remained from Basket 1 after our last update.

We did pretty well on our second basket. I've still got the kohlrabi, beets, carrots, apples, Valencia oranges, and Broccoli. We didn't get many beets, so I figured I'd throw them in the fridge along with the Valencia oranges and wait to see if we get more beets this week so I can make a full batch of Marjan's Favorite Beets I'm not sure what to do with a single little kohlrabi, so if you've got any ideas, I'd greatly appreciate them. I've reassessed my apples and decided to throw them all in the fridge until I get enough to make a big batch of applesauce. I did make Smitten Kitchen's Baked Kale Chips as Rebecca suggested. I didn't bother to cut out the center ribs or cut it into smaller pieces and no one complained. With the tangerines and parsley I made Spicy Orange Salad, Moroccan Style which was as good as the New York Times Magazine article described. Do not, I repeat, do not substitute grapefruit and/or Meyer lemon in this recipe. They totally destroy the fine balance of flavors, as I learned the hard way. But add 1/4 C sugar and toss it with a head of Romaine and it makes a satisfactory meal nonetheless.

Click here to see the rest of this post...